COHEN’S KINGS CATASTROPHES – CHAPTER 7
Not every bad trade or Free Agent signing that goes horribly wrong can be blamed on poor management or questionable scouting. Sometimes forces beyond a franchises control ruin what should have been a brilliant move. This week we examine a trade that should have worked. A trade that DID work…
until it didn’t.
CHAPTER SIX : The Best Laid Plans of Muzz and Men
Despite struggling all season with the drama surrounding Rob Blake and his contract negotiation and eventual trade, the 7th seeeded Kings managed an historic upset of the 2nd seeded Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2001 NHL Playoffs.
The Kings entered the 2001-2002 season looking to build on the momentum of their improbably playoff run. Nine games into the season they were 3-4-1-1, only two points out of last place.
WHAT THE KINGS DID
On October 24th, 2001 the Los Angeles Kings traded Jozef Stumpel and Glen “Muzz” Murray to the Boston Bruins for Jason Allison and Mikko Eloranta.
WHY IT LOOKED LIKE A GOOD MOVE
At 25 years old, Jason Allison was named Captain of the Boston Bruins and finished the 2000-2001 season with 95 points and tied for 4th in scoring in the NHL. The only players with more points than Allison were Jaromir Jagr, Joe Sakic and Patrick Elias. In 304 games with the Boston Bruins, from 1997 to 2001, Allison scored 294 points.
At 6’3 and 215 lbs, and only 26 years old, Allison could have been a dominant #1 center for the Kings for years. While his salary demands proved to be too much for the infamously frugal Boston Bruins, the Kings were able to sign Allison to a three year contract for less money than they were already paying star winger Zigmund Palffy.
Allison had expressed excitement about the possibility of playing with Palffy and it seemed like a natural pairing.
Despite his size and skill, Glen Murray had never broken the 30 goal mark. Already in his late twenties, it seemed unlikely that he would take the next step in his offensive production.
Jozef Stumpel was “oft derided”.
WHY IT WAS A TERRIBLE MOVE
When all three were healthy, Allison combined with Ziggy Palffy and Adam Deadmarsh to form the “LAPD Line”. Unfortunately, Jason Allison played only 99 games for the Kings, appearing in only 26 during the 2002-2003 season.
The next time he wore an NHL jersey was for the Maple Leafs in the 2005-2006 season. Despite scoring 60 points in 66 games for the Leafs he retired after failing to receive any contract offers in the off season. He was invited to the Maple Leafs training camp in 2009 but failed to make the team.
Mikko Eloranta played 146 games over two seasons for the Kings and then was out of the NHL.
After losing Allison to injuries, the Kings found themselves in need of a #1 Center again. In the summer of 2003 they traded a 2nd round pick in 2004 and a 4th round pick in 2003 for…
Stumpel practically mirrored Allison’s total production while playing on the second line in Boston.
Glen Murray on the other hand developed into a consistent offensive threat for the Bruins.
WHAT THE KINGS SHOULD HAVE DONE
Exactly what they did.
The Kings made plenty of mistakes around the Allison trade but none of them would have mattered as much had Allisons career not been utterly derailed by injuries. Attempting to replace Luc Robitaille with Steve Heinze was a perfect example.
HOW IT WOULD LOOK TODAY
The Kings traded two assets, including an “oft-derided” player that had been a King for 5 seasons, for a high profile center that played the previous season in the Eastern Conference. He made no attempt to hide his excitement about coming to the Kings or being excited about playing with a specific player and, once he arrived, proved to be the huge offensive boost the team was looking for.
If it happened in 2012 the Kings would have traded Jack Johnson to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jeff Carter.
HOW IT LOOKS IN HINDSIGHT
99 games of Jason Allison
422 games of Glen Murray
150 games of Jozef Stumpel
146 games of Mikko Eloranta
WHO’S TO BLAME
Fate. Luck. Karma. The Injury Ninja.
AEG and The Kings had been widely criticized for their unwillingness to pay star players large salaries. Rob Blake and Luc Robitaille both found employment with other teams as a result of contentious contract negotiations.
The Allison trade demonstrated that the Kings would not only be willing to compensate star players but also focus on getting younger as well as getting better. The ensuing injury woes ultimately cost Dave Taylor and Andy Murray their jobs but the groundwork they laid can still be seen in the current Kings roster.
The LAPD Line was not only a cool line nickname but incredibly fun to watch.
Most of the time.
ROYAL REPUGNANCE RATING
(on a scale of -99 to +99)